The Iran Nuclear Deal and those who organized its negotiations top the lists of two Norwegian experts’ preferred candidates for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Speculation is swirling over who’ll win the prize, due to be announced in Oslo next Friday.
Both historian Asle Sveen, who has written several books on the Nobel Peace Prize, and Henrik Urdal, the new director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), have independently made the Iran Nuclear Deal their favourites for the prize. Sveen chose the foreign ministers for Iran and the EU and the former US Secretary of State John Kerry as the people who were all “central in the negotiations leading up to the agreement” and thus best-suited to accept the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the pact. Urdal included just Iran’s Mohamad Javad Zarif and the EU’s Federica Mogherini, to focus on their important contributions and signal that such deals don’t depend on US support.
“It’s not a criticism of Kerry,” Urdal, a Norwegian scholar who specializes in studying armed conflict and its consequences, said at a meeting with foreign correspondents in Oslo on Wednesday. He and his colleagues at PRIO simply believe the “bulk of the credit for the successful outcome” of the deal “must go to the two organizers of the negotiations,” and they were Zarif and Mogherini. For Mogherini, her achievement was a breakthrough because it represented the first major successful resolution of a conflict mediated by the EU since her EU ministerial position of “High Representative” was created in 2009.
Although Urdal joked that he “hadn’t seen Asle’s list” before topping his own with the Iran Nuclear Deal, its status as a favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize is no coincidence. The deal has been put into play after US President Donald Trump, whose own administration confirmed earlier this year that Iran was complying with its framework, has recently threatened to scrap the agreement. Both Urdal and Sveen think a Nobel Peace Prize would send a strong signal of international support for it at a time when North Korea has emerged as a nuclear threat as well.
A prize in support of the deal may help defuse the North Korean nuclear threat, and prod negotiations between the controversial and unpredictable leaders of both North Korea and the US, according to Sveen. He also noted that a Nobel Prize honouring the deal would fulfill the goals of prize benefactor Alfred Nobel, not least since it can prevent the development of nuclear weapons. PRIO’s director believes the “peaceful and successful resolution of the Iran nuclear dispute … would be a worthy and notable winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.”
There were several other candidates on the “short lists” of those they think are most likely to win the prize this year. PRIO includes the UN’s High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and its leader, Filippo Grandi, along with Turkish press freedom champion Can Dündar, the Economic Community of West African States and the Syrian civil defense group known as the White Helmets. Sveen and the website he runs, Nobeliana.com (external link), also included Saudi Arabian freedom of speech advocate Raif Badawi, the independent Russian media outlet Novaya Gazeta and Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina, and Dr Denis Mukwege of Congo, who has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize several times for his work to help women raped during the civil wars in Congo.
There were 318 candidates for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, including 215 individuals and 103 organizations. The prize is due to be announced on October 6.